REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — The creator of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda will step down from his current position at Nintendo but remain with the company to work on smaller, more personal projects, Wired.com has learned.
In an exclusive interview with Wired.com on Wednesday, the 59-year-old head of Nintendo’s game design department said that he will move away from supervising the development of massive games like this year’s Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D Land, passing the torch to the younger designers in the company and working on projects that won’t take as long to complete.
“Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,’” Miyamoto said through his interpreter. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”
“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto said. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”
Miyamoto said that he’s hoping to start work on a project in 2012, and hopefully show the game off publicly within the year.
“In other words, I’m not intending to start from things that require a five-year development time,” he said.
Miyamoto, whose creations propelled Nintendo to worldwide prominence beginning with 1981?s arcade game Donkey Kong and who is generally recognized as the world’s most influential and creative game designer, said he felt comfortable stepping away from supervising the Mario and Zelda games because his staff has done such a good job with this year’s critically acclaimed entries in both series.
“I’m saying this because I have a solid reaction from the existing teams,” he said. “I was able to nurture the developers inside Nintendo who were able to create something like this or something like that,” he said, gesturing to banners in the interview room in Nintendo’s office that showed the logos of Skyward Sword and Mario 3D Land.
The reason Miyamoto keeps telling the younger developers that he’s going to retire is to send the message that he won’t always be around for them to work with.
“The reason why I’m stressing that is that unless I say that I’m retiring, I cannot nurture the young developers,” he said. “After all, if I’m there in my position as it is, then there’s always kind of a relationship. And the young guys are always kind of in a situation where they have to listen to my ideas. But I need some people who are growing up much more than today.”
As for himself, Miyamoto seemed eager to get to work on his new ideas with a smaller, younger staff.
“Anyway, I’m interested in doing a variety of many other things,” he said with his usual cryptic smile.
Wired.com’s full interview with Miyamoto, including his thoughts on Skyward Sword, making Mario Kart 7 with a Western development team, 3-D gaming, cell phones and more on the future of games, will be published next week.